Over the past few days, we’ve learned several intriguing revelations about “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” from an optimistic alternate ending that almost was, to a shocking death at the hands of Darth Vader that nearly made it to the big screen. Now, even more light has been shed on the early plans for “Rogue One,” as director Gareth Edwards reveals that Jyn Erso’s mother was originally going to be a Jedi.
While speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Edwards explained the details of his initial plans for the eldest female Erso. “The prologue, at one point a long time ago, was going to be the Empire coming to kill the Jedi,” Edwards said. “Jyn’s mom was going to be a Jedi. We were witnessing one of those kills and Krennic would be the person sent to do it.”
Considering the Star Wars timeline, this could have easily worked. After all, Jyn is presumably in her mid-20s for the majority of “Rogue One,” and we know that 19 years have passed between the events of “Revenge of the Sith” and “A New Hope.” This would make the young Jyn Erso we meet at the start of “Rogue One” approximately 4 to 6 years old. This also puts the start of the film in direct juxtaposition with Emperor Palpatine’s unleashing of Order 66 to eliminate all of the remaining Jedi.
According to Edwards, the decision to stray away from this initial concept came from fear of creating an unnecessary distraction by teasing fans with Jyn’s Jedi mother, despite “Rogue One” being a largely non-Jedi story. “Our instinct told us that we wanted a scene where Jyn is orphaned because of what Krennic does, which sets her on her path of being a child of war,” Edwards told EW. “The problem was that the second you make her mom a Jedi you spend the entire movie questioning whether Jyn is a Jedi or not. Eventually, we came up with the idea that her father should have designed the Death Star. That became a stronger way into the stealing of the Death Star plans. We let go of the mother being a Jedi, and she became just a rebellious mom.”
Despite Edwards’ concerns, others involved in the project had slightly different opinions on the matter. Gary Whitta, who wrote the early screenplay for the film, was more concerned with whether or not fans would accept a Star Wars story that focused on Rebel soldiers, rather than the Jedi, who have been the focal point of the franchise since 1977. “This would be the first Star Wars film that did not have a Jedi factor,” Whitta said. “I was concerned about it for a while. They are basically extinct. There are two left [Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi], and they’re in hiding. You’re not going to see a Jedi in this film. How do we still get some element of the fact that the Force hasn’t gone anywhere? That it’s just in the background?”
One thing that seems to have remained a constant, however, is Jyn’s father – Galen Erso. “Her mother was a Jedi Knight who was hiding out. But her father was still the scientist,” Whitta said of the abandoned Jedi prologue. Edwards went on to elaborate, as well. “We just had to pick a lane. We ended up feeling like her father should be the reason this thing existed. The guilt for that felt like better motivation in stealing the Death Star plans.”
Ultimately, the decision was made to cut out the Jedi element from “Rogue One” altogether, instead opting to tie back to that aspect of the Star Wars mythos by simply including a Force-sensitive character – a void that was filled by Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Imwe. “In the end, we decided it was too much. We didn’t need an actual Jedi character,” Whitta explained. “We just needed someone who could feel the Force. The character that feels the Force is a believer, and he has that faith-based spiritual element but isn’t actually a Jedi knight.”
Directed by Gareth Edwards, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker. “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” releases digitally on March 24, while the Blu-ray and DVD combo pack will be available April 4.